Raza Foundation’s Uttaradhikar Series, an Ode to the ‘Guru-Shishya’ Tradition

NEW DELHI:
The Uttaradhikar series, a novel initiative by Raza Foundation to strengthen the classical arts ecosystem by celebrating the Guru-Shishya tradition, came to an end last evening with recitals by Sarangi Player Farooque Lateef Khan and Odissi dancer Pavithra Reddy.
The three-day music and dance extravaganza, aimed at providing young talents an established platform to showcase their genius, witnessed performances by deserving disciples of eminent gurus who are making waves in the performing arts space. Uttaradhikar featured the new crop of artistes who are carrying forward artistic legacies of their iconic gurus. Spellbinding showcases by Hindustani vocalist Saniya Patankar, disciple of Dr.Ashwini Deshpande, kathak dancer Rupanshi Kashyap who has been mentored by Padma Bhushan Kumudini Lakhia, and many others left audiences enraptured.
Uttaradhikar, organised annually by the Raza Foundation, features eminent gurus of Indian classical art forms, who select one of their disciples to perform at the festival.
Farooque Lateef Khan inaugurated his performance on the last evening of the festival with two meditative bandishes in raag Shree in Vilambit Ektal and Drut Teental. As the Bhopal-born Khan laid his hands on the strings of the sarangi and moved the bow, his nimble fingers seemed to buzz on the strings like a swarm of bees in a garden of blooms.
The sarangi recital concluded with a Dadra in Mishra Pilu. “I hope that my recital reflected shadows of the musical talent of my seniors,” said Khan, who is the son and disciple of the late Ustad Abdul Lateef Khan. “The sarangi taalim of Gwalior gharana is similar to that of vocals. We do not receive our training in the tantrakaari ang (instrumental style). Instead, we introduce and reveal the raag to the audience exactly like a vocalist,” he added.
Khan is deeply aware of his illustrious lineage and the importance of uninterrupted training. “You could be born into the richest of musical legacies but it is your training that can convert you into an artist of finesse,” he said. “When I began learning the sarangi at the age of 13, I was trained by my father for merely half an hour. But my own rehearsals lasted 8-9 hours. Even now, it continues for five hours,” he added.
The last leg of the Uttaradhikar concert was headlined by Odissi dancer Pavithra Reddy. A disciple of the internationally-feted Surupa Sen, the artistic director and choreographer of Nrityagram, Reddy, exploded on the stage with a rare combination of intense emotion, stylistic rigour and rhythm.
The first piece of her performance was titled Shrimati, a celebration of womanhood choreographed by Sen, and it was followed by Sun Maiya, a Surdas bhajan and a dialogue between Yashoda, a young Krishna and a gopi, which was originally choreographed by the Odissi great Kelucharan Mohapatra. The finale piece, another choreography of Sen, was titled Shridevi and dedicated to Goddess Durga. “I am honoured to be chosen by my guru to perform for the Raza Foundation,” said Reddy, who has trained with Sen for 24 years, is a member of the Nrityagram dance ensemble and has performed widely across the world.
Reddy started out at Nrityagram as a young girl whose father had a farm next to the dance gurukul in Hessarghata, 30 km outside Bengaluru. “Pavithra is a fabulous success story for us since Nrityagram is all about bringing classical arts back to the roots. Today she teaches in the village, is a full-time soloist and performer, and also a member of the Nrityagram dance ensemble,” said Sen.

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